Friday, February 17, 2006

Legislature to Consider Two New Ethics Bills
Bills would disclose more information on lobbying activities to the public
AUGUSTA – The Maine Legislature will soon take a vote on two new ethics bills sponsored by Representative Marilyn Canavan, D-Waterville. The two lobbying disclosure bills seek to shed light on lobbying activities and give lawmakers, the media, and the public more information about political lobbying in Maine.
Canavan’s first bill would create an online register that would list the names of lobbyists, the organizations they represent, and the subjects of bills in which they have an interest. Canavan’s bill is modeled after a similar online lobbying register now used by the Wisconsin Ethics Commission. The Wisconsin Ethics Board’s register may be viewed online at:
Currently, the Maine Ethics Commission produces only a paper register.
LD 1822: An Act To Require the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices To Produce A Register of All Registered Lobbyists, would dramatically increase the information that is readily available to the public.
Canavan’s second bill would require lobbyists to report on their activities when lobbying state agencies. Currently, lobbyists are required to report activity dealing with the Legislature and the Governor’s Office directly, but not any other executive branch office or department.
The last major changes in Maine’s Lobbyist Disclosure Laws were made in 1976. Thirty-eight states currently have some form of reporting and regulation dealing with executive branch lobbying activities. Both of Canavan’s bills were voted out of the Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee on February 15th.


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